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DNA/RNA heteroduplex oligonucleotide technology for regulating lymphocytes in vivo

Ohyagi, M;Nagata, T;Ihara, K;Yoshida-Tanaka, K;Nishi, R;Miyata, H;Abe, A;Mabuchi, Y;Akazawa, C;Yokota, T;

Manipulating lymphocyte functions with gene silencing approaches is promising for treating autoimmunity, inflammation, and cancer. Although oligonucleotide therapy has been proven to be successful in treating several conditions, efficient in vivo delivery of oligonucleotide to lymphocyte populations remains a challenge. Here, we demonstrate that intravenous injection of a heteroduplex oligonucleotide (HDO), comprised of an antisense oligonucleotide (ASO) and its complementary RNA conjugated to α-tocopherol, silences lymphocyte endogenous gene expression with higher potency, efficacy, and longer retention time than ASOs. Importantly, reduction of Itga4 by HDO ameliorates symptoms in both adoptive transfer and active experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis models. Our findings reveal the advantages of HDO with enhanced gene knockdown effect and different delivery mechanisms compared with ASO. Thus, regulation of lymphocyte functions by HDO is a potential therapeutic option for immune-mediated diseases.